Wheelchair Prescription

This is not something we are taught in our studies and mainly stays in the domain of the Occupational Therapist. As a Physio, we see our clients in wheelchairs day in, day out, and it is important to know the basics of seating and positioning. Often the Physio visits more regularly than the Occupational Therapist so may pick up on changes and it is important to notify the team if something is not quite right. Sometimes, we may be the only therapist involved and can offer suggestions to the client and family on simple wheelchairs to help keep them out and about safely.

Here is a good resource by Empower on where to start when thinking about wheelchair prescription and a great visual on basic seating and positioning.

image from https://www.empowerhealthcare.com.au/considerations-for-wheelchair-prescription-part-2-seating-and-positioning-guide/

Want to learn more about wheelchairs?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed a training package to develop the minimum skills and knowledge required by personnel involved in wheelchair service delivery.  The free training package has several different levels, probably best to start with Wheelchair Service Training Package – Basic level then progress to Intermediate Level if you are still wanting to learn more.

The International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP) offers tests on wheelchair service proficiency which complement the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Packages. There is no cost for individuals to take the tests, and those who pass receive a certificate of competency. 

Of course, if you are looking for a wheelchair that is anything more than basic it is best to consult with an Occupational Therapist. I always think it is best to have input from everyone involved to make sure the right chair is scripted and supplied. They more complex wheelchairs can cost more than a small car so we want to make sure it is the best fit possible.

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